No error in High Court orders on Quayson’s trial – Judge
The Presiding Judge in the trial of Mr. James Gyakye Quayson, Member of Parliament for Assin North, has stated that the High Court’s order dated November 3, 2023, was error-free.
The Court stated in the ruling that if the accused and his legal team failed to appear at the next hearing, the case would be conducted in absentia.
This was due to Mr Quayson’s lawyers failing to appear when the case was called before the Court on November 3, 2023.
Initially, the Supreme Court declared Quayson’s election as Member of Parliament for Assin North invalid due to his dual citizenship in Canada and Ghana at the time he filed his nomination to run in the 2020 election.
However, in a by-election conducted by the Electoral Commission, the people of Assin North Constituency re-elected him to represent them in Parliament.
He now faces charges of perjury and deceiving a public officer at the High Court.
According to Justice Mary Maame Ekue Yanzuh, Mr Quayson and his defence team, led by Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, also failed to participate in the trial via a virtual link.
The Court stated on November 3, 2023, that the proceedings from July 19, 2023, could not be retrieved due to technical issues, while the first prosecution witness was in the witness box.
It stated that on November 9, 2023, before the counsel began cross-examining the witness, the Court informed the parties that the proceedings of July 18, 2023, had been mixed up with those of July 19, 2023.
Justice Yanzuh stated that she granted Mr Tsikata an hour to conduct the cross-examination on July 19, 2023, if needed, but he raised no objections and went ahead to cross-examine the witness for two hours.
She pointed out that losing proceedings was not an unusual occurrence and could happen in a variety of ways.
According to Justice Yanzuh, the witness was still in the box at the time, and Mr Quayson’s counsel decided to raise the issue later in the day after further cross-examining the witness.
She said that the counsel appeared to want to know why the records were missing, and that he could check with the Registrar.
Mr Tsikata initially moved a motion for review and variation of the court’s ruling on November 3, 2023, regarding the further conduct of the trial.
He stated that the application was filed under the court’s inherent jurisdiction because the topic of technical issues came up for the first time in the trial.
Mr. Tsikata noted that the Court’s directives on the technical concerns were issued without Quayson’s representatives.
“It is clear from our exhibits that lawyers for the accused had asked to be furnished with the record of proceedings as well as Court notes about the sitting of this court on July 9, 2023, and July 19, 2023,” he said.
He said no information was provided to Quayson’s lawyers in response to the written request for the records of proceedings.
Mr Tsikata also said the conduct of the Attorney-General had been reported to the Disciplinary Committee of the Ghana Legal Council (GLC)
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr Yvonne Attakora-Obuobisa stated that when the court issued a detailed ruling, the applicant’s counsel did not make any objections.
She said the court gave reason for the loss of the proceedings of July 19, 2023, and allowed the counsel for the accused to further cross-examine the first witness to make up for what had been lost through technical challenges.
“My Lord, the applicant has already fully exercised his right to further cross-examine the witness based on the order made by the Court and the witness has since been discharged,” she added.
The DPP said the opportunity for further cross-examination of the witness, which was granted by the Court, was to prevent injustice to the accused person.
She said the GLC had dismissed the complaint filed by the accused as no prima facie case had been made against him.
The DPP said their next witness was the former Director of Passport, who is currently the High Commissioner in India.
She prayed for his evidence to be taken via a video link.
The case was adjourned to Feb 16, 2024.